When Crime Patrol planned an episode on Delhi gangrape, debates were raised on whether it should be aired or not. We wonder if the reality-based crime shows on TV are building a better society or they are instiling fear in vulnerable minds.
Starting with Crime Patrol (Sony TV) in early 2000s, Indian TV now has a number of crime-based shows and some of these like Savdhaan India –India Fights Back have maintained a decent TRP. Should we have censorship on the kind of detailed-criminal incidents being shown in our faces, uncensored in our drawing rooms? Or should we accept it and take lessons from the warning these shows gives us? With the details and precision of these crime shows, viewers get a peek into criminal minds. This can also be used in staying alert to impending criminal incidents in real life, more so, because they are picked from real-life incidents. Sushant Singh, who anchors Savdhhaan India argues, "I took up the show (Savdhaan India) as any work and my only condition was that I can’t do something like India’s Most Wanted kind of a thing where there is lot of shouting and sensationalisation. "Further elaborating on the kind of impact his show has on the society, Sushant says, "People have come up to me and said we’ve learnt a lot from the show. Our aim is to spread awareness. We always show that the criminal is caught and people win when they fight back." Anchor of Crime Patrol – Dastak, Anoop Soni says, "On a larger level, we can’t say for sure that the shows have helped but people do get help from the shows, especially Crime Patrol. The shows certainly make people aware of life around us as well as our rights. We’re trying to promote justice for all." Further elaborating on the purpose of his show, Soni says, "We do not do only crime, with this year’s season, we have graduated to promoting better society and practices. So, we basically aim at guiding people to a better society, posing questions that need to be asked." However, some people believe exposing vulnerable minds to such details of criminal incidents can cause harm to the psyche and instil fear in them. Sushant reacts animatedly to such views, "Gita, Quran and Bible have been there for centuries. Have all of us become saints after reading the good books? No. So, the argument that crime shows on TV will prove to be fodder for the criminal mind is not justifiable." Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, however, feels censorship should be more on TV, than cinema since it is free viewership for the adults and kids in a family alike. Bhatt says, "When the television is un-reigned and has no kind of restrictions, why is cinema being leashed? Since television comes into our homes, TV content should be sanitised and made more palatable. Cinema should be unleashed as it is categorised under Adult and Universal sections." Talking about the vulnerability of kids to such shows, Sushant says, "We began airing the show at 11pm. Even at that time, people were making their kids watch the show as it makes them more cautious and alert. I even ask my own daughter who is ten years old to watch the show because it will equip her in being safer." To get a better understanding of the impact of reality-based crime shows on TV, we approached Sandy Dias Andrade, Psychologist & Director, Just Being. Andrade says, "Such shows basically breathe fear in people, especially in vulnerable minds like kids and youngsters. A long exposure to crime instils fear of an unsafe society. As for the crime-prone minds, they would anyways pick up stuff to suit their interest. But a repeated exposure to crime is certainly not healthy, especially for kids." The shows, however, should not be condemned downright, she adds, "I think these shows can be helpful in making people cautious but the focus on crime could make people insecure. Shows that focus on cases where victims fight back and justice wins, can be boost the morale of the people." Sandy says kids watching these shows should be monitored. "The whole responsibility does not lie on the shoulders of media channels alone. It may not harm adults watching the shows for information but over-exposure is not advisable," she adds. What do you think? Do these shows help in building a secure and aware society or do they instil fear in vulnerable minds? Share your views in the comment box below.